Base mourns gunner killed on Iraq duty

By James MortlockA MILITARY base was in mourning last night after one of its servicemen died of injuries he suffered in an accident while serving in Iraq.

By James Mortlock

A MILITARY base was in mourning last night after one of its servicemen died of injuries he suffered in an accident while serving in Iraq.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced yesterday Gunner Duncan Geoffrey Pritchard, who was based with the RAF Regiment at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, died last week in hospital.

A statement said: “It is with deep regret that the MoD has to announce that Gunner Pritchard died on May 7 in a UK hospital from injuries sustained in a traffic accident while on duty in Iraq. He was aged 23.”

Flight Lieutenant Tom Dobbing, spokesman for RAF Honington, described the mood at the base - which only days ago witnessed joyous scenes as servicemen returned home to their families - as one of deep sadness.

He said: “I can't say anything more about the accident or Gunner Pritchard because his family has asked for privacy at this difficult time.

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“What I can say, however, is that there is an awful lot of sadness here because of what has happened.

“It's a sad loss to the squadron, especially when we have just come back. It's not a happy conclusion to what was a very successful Middle East campaign for 16 Squadron.

“The squadron achieved an awful lot and everyone was very pleased to have made an excellent contribution. But to have this happen on our return is very sad - for the members of the regiment personally it takes the edge off their achievements.”

Flt Lt Dobbing said plans to lower the base flag to half-mast for Gunner Pritchard's funeral were now being discussed. However, he was unable to say when or where the funeral would take place.

He was also unable to reveal whether the serviceman was from the Honington area or how long he had been serving at the base.

The MoD statement about the death of Gunner Pritchard stressed: “His family have requested that their privacy be respected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

The death of Gunner Pritchard came a week after an East Anglian soldier was killed in an explosion while serving with 7 Air Assault Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers while serving in Iraq.

Lance Corporal James McCue died after being wounded at the end of April. The 27-year-old came from Scotland and had been stationed at Colchester Garrison since August last year.

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